By Lord Graham of Edmonton
JOHN GALLACHER died peacefully in his sleep in hospital in Folkestone where he had lived for almost 30 years with his wife Freda.
They had met during the war when they both served in the Royal Air Force. John was educated at the St Patrick's High School, Dumbarton, and after leaving school was employed by the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society.
John was one of the early students when the Co-operative College moved from Manchester to Stanford Hall, Loughborough ? his years being 1946 to 48.
When he left Stanford Hall he was appointed Assistant Education Secretary of the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society under a great co-operative educationalist, George Durham.
In those days the RACS was the only society with a full-time Board of Management and it competed with the London and the South Suburban Societies in all things co-operative.
He left the RACS in 1950 to become the Education Secretary to the Enfield Highway Co-operative Society and introduced many innovations which he had pioneered at the RACS.
I know, because I succeeded him at Enfield when he left for higher service within the Co-operative Union! And when he left his post as Southern Secretary to the Co-operative Union, I followed into that post!
By now, John had settled in to Enfield Highway life, and lived in Hoddesdon. He became President of the Enfield Board ? and served alongside such co-operative luminaries as Sir Jack Bailey (Co-op Party National Secretary), Harold Campbell (his assistant), Muriel Russell who was not only another ex-student of the Co-operative College but worked with John when he became the Secretary to the International Co-operative Alliance.
Then there was Leslie Goodrum of Co-op Party fame, myself, a former National Secretary ? and our Chief Officer was Bernard Evison, son-in law of AV Alexander! What a line-up and John presided over us magnificently!
Some of us were perplexed to find that John was content to remain a big fish in a comparatively small pond for there is no question but that he was "Mr.Co-op" not only in the Enfield and Southern Section area but within the wider co-operative sphere.
In those days the height of ambition in many ways was to aspire to and then become a member of the Board of the CWS, known colloquially as ?The House of Lords of the Co-operative Movement'.
But John was indeed content to soldier on ? until he returned to the top of the tree as the Parliamentary Secretary of the Co-operative Union. He succeeded that most loyal and charismatic of men, Max Wood, who had followed an impressive line of co-operative civil servants, including AV Alexander and CW Fulker.
It was during his time as the Parliamentary Secretary that he grew in stature within British retailing, for it was the time when the EEC loomed large in both thought and impact on retailing. John mastered the art of advocacy in Brussels and for a time was a member of the Economic and Social Committee of the EEC. He had already made a deep impression on that wonderful co-operative servant, John Jacques, when John was both Chief Officer of the Portsea Island Society and the Chairman of the Co-operative Union.
When John himself was elevated to the Lords as Lord Jacques of Portsea Island, it was not long before he ensured that John Gallacher joined him, in 1983,.
As a parliamentarian John quickly found his feet and soon was acknowledged as that rare species ? someone on the Labour benches who knew something about agriculture.
Together with John Mackie and Dennis Carter they quickly established themselves as the finest agricultural team on any frontbench in either House. He served in the Labour Whips' Office, and when I joined him in 1985 and then I went on to become the Chief Whip, a circle of sorts had been completed.
Sadly, illnesses took him from our gatherings at Westminster, but he left us with the memory of a dedicated co-operator who for the whole of his life had found it imperative to serve our best interests, wherever they lay.
We mourn the passing of a loyal and faithful co-operator and our thoughts are with his wife Freda and son Robert.